Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Down a rabbit hole with Czech-American diplomat and professor Joseph Korbel

My rabbit hole today began with the childhood of Madeleine Albright, the first woman to be United States Secretary of State, and continued with her father, Joseph Korbel. Before World War Two, he worked at the Czechoslovakian embassy in Belgrade, and after spending the war in Britain (where he and his family converted from Judaism to Catholicism), he returned to Belgrade as Czechoslovakia's Ambassador to Yugoslavia. After the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, he received asylum in the United States, where he began a long career as Professor of International Studies at the University of Denver – and one of his students there later also became Secretary of State (from 2005-2009): Condoleezza Rice. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 31 January 2023)

Monday, January 30, 2023

Elton John's six albums in the four years from 1970 to 1973

This evening, I had one of my occasional urges to listen to Elton John. It started with "Bennie and the Jets" going through my head, so I listened to a few songs from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (1973), turned back to "Elton John" (1970), and dipped into the intervening albums, "Tumbleweed Connection" (1970), "Madman Across the Water" (1971), "Honky Château" (1972), and "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player" (1973). I don't listen to Elton John much, and today I only listened to about a dozen songs in all, but those six albums in four years make for quite a run, each with multiple hits and many other good songs. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 January 2023)

Sunday, January 29, 2023

A memory of bowling from forty years ago

When my daughter Sara told me she was going to go bowling with friends this afternoon, I lamented that the problems with my right elbow that flared up when I tried to learn to juggle a few years ago prevent me from bowling anymore. I mentioned that my best bowling sequence was four strikes in a row, but only when she asked me when that happened did I remember that during my freshman year at Stanford in 1982-1983, someone in my dorm organized a bowling team, and I joined it. I was only an okay bowler, but we had fun, and once I actually did bowl four strikes in a row. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 29 January 2023)

Saturday, January 28, 2023

"I want your eye, man": Jordan Peele's "Get Out" and the death of Black photographer Tyre Nichols

In Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (2017), blind white art dealer Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) explains to Black photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) why he wants his brain transplanted into Chris's body: "I want your eye, man. I want those things you see through." White America wants what Black America sees, but without Black bodies. This crossed my mind when I read Heather Cox Richardson's "Letter from an American" for yesterday, 27 January, which is unusually brief for her. After Black photographer Tyre Nichols was beaten to death by five police officers in Memphis earlier this month, she discreetly refrains from comment but provides a link to Nichols's website with his photography. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 January 2023)


Whatever happened to Milton from Office Space?
Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) in Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (2017)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Reading Denise Levertov's "Settling" as "Seattling"

I bought Denise Levertov's "Evening Train" when it came out in 1992. I knew she had recently moved from Somerville, Massachusetts, to Seattle, Washington, so I misread the title of the first poem as "Seattling" instead of "Settling". I didn't notice my mistake until I'd finished reading the poem, whose reference to an eagle, a mountain, and "the grey foretold by all and sundry" were all consistent with "Seattling" down in Denise's new city. When I saw her again in Palo Alto, California, in 1993 and shared my misreading with her, she blessed me with her beautiful laughter for what turned out be the last time before her death in 1997. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 27 January 2023)



Denise Levertov, "Evening Train", 1992

"Collected Poems", 853


I was welcomed here—clear gold

of late summer, of opening autumn,

the dawn eagle sunning himself on the highest tree,

the mountain revealing herself unclouded, her snow

tinted apricot as she looked west,

tolerant, in her steadfastness, of the restless sun

forever rising and setting.

.                                        Now I am given

a taste of the grey foretold by all and sundry,

a grey both heavy and chill. I've boasted I would not care,

I'm London-born. And I won't. I'll dig in,

into my days, having come here to live, not to visit.

Grey is the price

of neighboring with eagles, of knowing

a mountain's vast presence, seen or unseen.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The rising price of quinoa and its effects in South America

The other day, an article by Daniel Strassberg in "Republik" included a passing reference to how the growing global popularity of quinoa has driven up prices so much that Andean quinoa farmers can no longer afford to buy their own crop. Curious, I found an article in the "Guardian" that said this wasn't true, and I posted it as a comment. Then Sabin Bieri of the University of Bern posted a link to her ongoing research on such issues. The farmers are actually doing quite well, but they've stopped eating quinoa because it's seen as "poor people's food". It's the South American urban poor who have suffered from the higher prices. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 January 2023)


Firmina Castro harvests her quinoa in the highlands in Puno region, southeastern Peru
Photograph: Tomas Munita/ITC. From the linked article in the "Guardian".



Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Guidelines announced by "Nature" for the use of Large-Language Models in scholarship

Yesterday, in response to the continuing development and growing use of text-generating large-language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, "Nature" and other journals published by Springer Nature added two new principles to their style sheet for authors: first, "no LLM tool will be accepted as a credited author on a research paper"; second, use of LLM tools must be acknowledged in papers. These guidelines establish that LLM tools can serve the writing of scholarship but cannot replace the role of authors and the responsibility that they must take for their work. The editorial making the announcement is also pleasantly dry, without the undertone of panic that otherwise accompanies so much writing about ChatGPT. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 January 2023)


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

"My hand on chiseled stone": A touch across the centuries in Denise Levertov's "The Past (II)"

In her poem "Inheritance", which I wrote about the other day, a family story takes Denise Levertov back over a century to her grandmother's childhood. In "The Past (II)", which is also in "A Door in the Hive" (1989), Levertov touches a stone church and imagines the masons who built it: "My hand on chiseled stone, fitting / into the invisible / print of the mason's own [...]." Taking her even farther than that story, that touch guides Levertov across the centuries to imagine a scene from the age of the church's construction: "The new dust / floated past, his mate / from the scaffolding reached down / for the water-jug." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 January 2023)


The Past (II)

Denise Levertov, A Door in the Hive, 1989

Collected Poems, 842-843


'The witnesses are old things, undimmed, dense

With the life of human hands' – Czesław Miłosz


My hand on chiseled stone, fitting

into the invisible

print of the mason's own

where it lay

a moment of that year the nave

was still half-risen, roofless . . .


There's a past that won't suffice:

years in billions,

walls of strata. My need roams

history, centuries not aeons.

And replica is useless.


The new dust

floated past, his mate

from the scaffolding reached down

for the water-jug.


This stone

or another: no inch of all

untouched. Cold, yes,


but that human trace

will burn my palm.

This is a hunger.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Images of the Great Siege of Gibraltar and its aftermath

Recently, having read a reference to the Great Siege of Gibraltar of 1779-1783, I went to Wikipedia, where I found information, but also several dramatic paintings that depict the siege, such as John Trumbull's "The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar" (1789), which is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Thomas Whitcombe's "Destructionof the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 14 September 1782" (1782), which is at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. But the picture that moves me most is from the aftermath, not from a battle: "Main Street after the Siege by Captain Davis looking South", from 1793, which is at the Gibraltar National Museum. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 January 2023)


"Main Street after the Siege by Captain Davis looking South", from 1793, Gibraltar National Museum.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Will Hunting and bullshit in "Good Will Hunting" (1997)

When Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) flirts with Skylar (Minnie Driver) in a bar in Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting" (1997) and is challenged on his historical knowledge by Clark (Scott William Winters), Will Hunting (Matt Damon) defends Chuckie with his own knowledge of "the evolution of the market economy in the southern colonies". Will may namedrop James Lemon and Gordon Wood and identify Clark's plagiarism of a phrase from Daniel Vickers, but Clark doesn't challenge Will about an apparently non-existent historian, Pete Garrison. Clark bullshits Chuckie but can't tell when Will bullshits him, any more than many of us can when ChatGPT drops names and ideas in its algorithmic texts. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 January 2023)


Saturday, January 21, 2023

"The smooth hands of the village woman": A century and more in Denise Levertov's "Inheritance"


In Denise Levertov's poem, "Inheritance", from her 1989 collection "A Door in the Hive", the poet remembers a story told by her grandmother: "Even in her nineties she recalled / the smooth hands of the village woman / who sometimes came from down the street / and gently with the softest / of soft old flannel, / soaped and rinsed and dried / her grubby face [...]." The grandmother's story is handed down to her granddaughter, who, now herself is in her mid-sixties, remembers something that happened over a century ago, and captures it in a poem that you can read now, over thirty years after the publication of the poem. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 January 2023)



Denise Levertov, "A Door in the Hive" (1989)


Even in her nineties she recalled

the smooth hands of the village woman

who sometimes came from down the street

and gently with the softest

of soft old flannel,

soaped and rinsed and dried

her grubby face, while upstairs

the stepmother lay abed bitterly sleeping,

the uncorked opiate bottle

wafting out sticky sweetness

into a noontime dusk.

Those hands, that slow refreshment,

were so kind , I too,

another lifetime beyond them,

shall carry towards my death

their memory,

grateful, and longing

once again to feel them soothe me.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Songs remembered in posts about David Crosby's death

Although the musical career of David Crosby (1942-2023) began with The Byrds in 1964 and continued through his 2022 solo album "For Free", the memorial posts I saw for his death yesterday largely referred to two albums: "Crosby, Stills & Nash" (1969), to which Crosby contributed "Guinnevere", "Wooden Ships" (co-written with Paul Kantner and Stephen Stills), and "Long Time Gone"; and "Déja Vu" (1970), by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, to which he contributed "Almost Cut My Hair" and the title track. The occasional posts referring not to Crosby's songs but to Stephen Stills's "Helplessly Hoping" or Graham Nash's "Our House" mark how central the group's harmonizing was to their sound. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 20 January 2023)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Nick Cave, Paul Krugman, Sarah Firisen, and the "grotesque mockery" of ChatGPT

Like me, Nick Cave thinks ChatGPT is bullshit, as he wrote on seeing "a song in the style of Nick Cave" written by ChatGPT: "[...] this song is bullshit, a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human". Such "grotesque mockery" also appears in an article by Sarah Firisen, who quotes a passage from Paul Krugman. While I didn't know until after I read the paragraph that it had been written by ChatGPT, I had found it unusually flat for Krugman, framed as it was by "it is possible that" and "it is also worth noting that". Such telltale formulas make a "grotesque mockery" of Krugman's usually vigorous writerly voice. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 January 2023)


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The formulaic bullshit of ChatGPT essays

In their writing, some students use formulaic phrases they think makes writing sound "academic". The ChatGPT essays I have seen exemplify the profound flaws of such a formula-based approach to writing: the bot's broad, simplistic framing of topics amounts to little more than "bullshit" in Harry G. Frankfort's sense ("The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him"). Such bullshit essays don't actually analyze anything. As long as bots can't impersonate thinking rather than just spewing out empty, formulaic bullshit, the main thing teachers have to worry about is students using AI-generated essays to produce hopelessly mediocre work. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 18 January 2023)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

An empty syllabus and a lesson with a silent teacher: My course "Doing the Right Thing: Contemporary Films by African-Americans" in Fall Semester 2017

In Fall Semester 2017, I taught "Doing the Right Thing: Contemporary Films by African-Americans." The schedule on the syllabus was empty except for the first session, which said "Moonlight" – Barry Jenkins's "Moonlight" (2016). We discussed it until we thought we were done with it, which took four weeks (one session per week). Then we turned to the other movies on the syllabus and discussed them each for one or two weeks, depending on how long we felt we needed to discuss them. – In the first of our two sessions on Jordan Peele's "Get Out" (2017), I was silent, while the students had an amazing discussion. I offered comments at the end. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 17 January 2023)


Note: The other films in the course were Justin Simien's "Dear White People" (2014); Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989); Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" (2013); and Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" (2010).

Monday, January 16, 2023

Closing the library at Stanford with William Carlos Williams and Gabriel García Márquez

In the mid-1980s, shortly before midnight at Stanford's Meyer Undergraduate Library, we staff members made an announcement that began, "The library will be closing in 20 minutes." After making the announcement several times, I started playing with it. Once, I recited William Carlos Williams' "This Is Just To Say", and then continued: "No, this is just to say that the library will be closing in 20 minutes." But in my favorite, I recited the first sentence of Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and then added, "Many years from now, when you face your firing squad, all you'll remember is ... 'The library will be closing in 20 minutes." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 16 January 2023)


Note: Here's the first sentence of "One Hundred Years of Solitude", in Gregory Rabassa's translation: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Sunday, January 15, 2023

"Some useless, although probably harmless, concoction": The unnamed "placebo effect" in Shirley Jackson's "The Third Baby's the Easiest" (1949)

In Shirley Jackson's "The Third Baby's the Easiest" (1949), which she incorporated into her memoir "Life Among the Savages" (1953), the pregnant narrator receives a shot in the hospital, and wonders about its effect: "[...] I am always afraid with nurses that they feel that the psychological effect of a hypodermic is enough, and that I am actually being inoculated with some useless, although probably harmless, concoction." She may not call it a placebo, but the concept long predates the twentieth century, as does "placebo" itself, which derives from the Vulgate Latin of Psalm 116:9: "Placebo Domino in regione vivorum" ("I will please the Lord in the land of the living"). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 15 January 2023)

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Mugging and "the odor of scared children" in Toni Morrison's "Home" (2012)

In Toni Morrison's novel "Home" (2012), Frank Money walks down an Atlanta street in the evening: "Had he been alert instead of daydreaming, he would have recognized that reefer and gasoline smell, the rapid sneaker tread as well as the gang breath—the odor of scared children depending on group bravery." Like Frank, when I daydreamed down my block in Philadelphia in 1989 after going to the store to buy dishwashing detergent, I heard that "rapid sneaker tread", and then I found myself being mugged by two teenage boys in front of my house, one of whom, I now realize with Morrison's wonderful formulation, definitely had the "odor of scared children". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 14 January 2023)

Friday, January 13, 2023

The Treaty of Nerchinsk: A treaty between Russia and China that was written in Latin

The Treaty of Nerchinsk between Russia and China, which was signed in 1689 at the Russian fort of Nerchinsk near the Amur River, opened up trade between the two countries and established a border to be marked with boundary stones. As no one in the Russian and Chinese delegations could speak both languages, the main negotiators were Andrei Bieobocki of Poland for Russia and the Jesuit missionaries Jean-Francois Gerbillon of France and Thomas Pereira of Portugal for China. They spoke Latin to each other and translated back and forth into Russian and Chinese for their respective delegations. So the treaty was ultimately written in Latin rather than in Russian and Chinese. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 13 January 2023)

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page at the ARMS benefit at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, December 1983

In December 1983, I went to an Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis benefit concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. The shows on the tour organized by Ronnie Lane, who had MS, featured Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker (with Clapton and his band), Jeff Beck (with Jan Hammer), and Jimmy Page (with Paul Rodgers). It was the first time Clapton, Beck, and Page, three former Yardbirds lead guitarists, performed together. At the end of the break after Cocker's set with Clapton, the auditorium went dark, a synthesizer groove started, and the lights burst on as Beck, who died on Tuesday at 78, began his fusion set with "Star Cycle". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 12 January 2023)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Naomi Raplansky (1918-2023) and her wife Eva Kollisch (b. 1925)

Naomi Raplansky, who died on 7 January 2023 at the age of 104, was sixteen when she first had poems published in "Poetry" in July 1934. Among the poets with work published in the same issue was Agnes Lee, who was born in 1868. In 2009, when she was 91, Raplansky married her longtime partner Eva Kollisch, who was then 84, as I learned from Wikipedia. There's no English Wikipedia page about Kollisch, but there's a German one, and a month before her fourteenth birthday, she was able to flee Germany to Britain with the Kindertransport in July 1939. She reunited with her parents in New York City the following year. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 January 2023)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The figure of "paint by numbers" in Greg Brown's "Whatever It Was" and The Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey"

According to Wikipedia, the first successful  "paint-by-numbers" set was introduced in 1951, when songwriters Greg Brown and Robert Hunter were two and ten years old, respectively. In Brown's song "Whatever It Was", from his 1997 album "Slant 6 Mind", the country is "a paint-by-number and it costs a million bucks down at the pawn." This is the figurative (and "usually depreciative") sense of "paint-by-numbers" defined in the OED as "designating that which is (merely) mechanical or formulaic, rather than imaginative, original, or natural." The same figurative sense appears in The Grateful Dead's "Touch of Grey", but Hunter makes the figurative sense more explicit: "Paint by number morning sky looks so phony." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 10 January 2023)


Monday, January 09, 2023

The Las Vegas mass shooting on a video screen in the background of Maria Schrader's "She Said"

Near the end of Maria Schrader's "She Said" (2022), as journalists Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) are close to publishing their New York Times article of 5 October 2017 on Harvey Weinstein's long history of harassment and assault, a video screen in the background at the Times building shows a CNN report about a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. That moment in the film shook me up as it took me back to waking up on Monday, 2 October 2017, to the news that sixty people had died in that shooting while singer Jason Aldean was performing the festival's final set. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 9 January 2023)

Sunday, January 08, 2023

The abecedarian in Hakeem Jeffries's speech on Friday, 6 January 2023

In his speech on Friday after Republican Kevin McCarthy of California finally won the Speaker of the House vote in the United States House of Representatives, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York who has replaced California Representative Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democratic caucus, turned to an ancient rhetorical and poetic form: the abecedarian. In 26 statements, Jeffries ran through the alphabet to summarize the House Democratic caucus's goals, with a few digs against Republicans along the way: from "American values over autocracy" to "freedom over fascism", "maturity over Mar-A-Lago", and "quality of life over Q-Anon", and finally to "zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 8 January 2023)

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Sitting on a bench in Kannenfeldpark on a sunny January afternoon

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in Basel today, and with the weather report for the next week predicting rain, rain, and more rain, Andrea and I went for a walk. Shortly after we got to Kannenfeldpark, I said I'd like to sit down on a bench in the sunshine. Andrea wanted to keep walking, so she "took a turn" around the park (a phrase we like from "Pride and Prejudice") while I sat down. In my minutes on that bench, I gradually went from slouching a bit to sitting straight up, my eyes closed most of the time while I concentrated on my breathing in a little round of meditation. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 7 January 2023)

Friday, January 06, 2023

My Federal Communications Commission Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit

While hunting for (and eventually finding) my daughter Sara's Social Security card from the United States (because we need the number for bureaucracy), I found another card that I still have from my life in the United States: a Federal Communications Commission Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit that I was granted on 6 August 1982 as part of my work at KZSU, the student-run radio station at Stanford University. Although I only started studying at Stanford that fall, I was able to start working at the radio station that summer. I worked at KZSU through June 1988, including a long stint as Jazz Director, and then again in the summer of 1990. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 6 January 2023)

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Forty-four-and-a-half minutes of Neil Young playing electric guitar from 1970 to 2022

To trace the five decades of progression of Neil Young's sound on electric guitar, spend forty-four-and-a-half minutes listening to three songs performed with Crazy Horse. His cacophonous melodic invention is already pervasive on the sixteen minutes of "Cowgirl in the Sand" from the 1970 archival release "Live at the Fillmore East" (from a double bill with Miles Davis). Then turn to the richer, throbbing sound of the thirteen-and-a-half minutes of "Danger Bird" from the soundtrack of the 1997 tour documentary "Year of the Horse" (directed by Jim Jarmusch). Then finish up with the fuzzed-up sound on the just over fifteen minutes of "Chevrolet" on the latest Crazy Horse album, "World Record". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 January 2023)


Screenshot of Neil on guitar from the official video of "Chevrolet"

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

The fate of Hershey's Kisses in Basel

When my son Miles was about four, he was invited to his friend Colleen's birthday party here in Basel. Back in the United States a week earlier, Colleen's mother Jamie had bought a gigantic bag of Hershey's Kisses to serve at the party. But when the expatriate parents enthused about their childhood comfort food to their children, the children – most of them born or at least raised in Basel – thought the Kisses were disgusting. Surprised, the parents tried them, too – and thought they were disgusting. In the chocolate paradise of Switzerland, the children had never eaten bad chocolate from the United States – and the parents had lost the taste for it. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 4 January 2023)


(This text was inspired by this article on American chocolate by Arwa Mahdawi.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Quarters, other small coins, darkness, and happiness in Ilya Kaminsky's "Dancing in Odessa"

In his poem "Praise", from the 2004 collection "Dancing in Odessa", Ilya Kaminsky plays with the image of a relative who arrives to surprise children with a magic trick: "The darkness, a magician, finds quarters // behind our ears." Here, the personification of darkness, otherwise a figure of fear or anxiety, turns it into the small gift of the comedy and nostalgia of a childhood memory. The link between coins and a noun with "-ness" echoes an earlier moment in the book, from "American Tourist": "happiness // is money, yes, but only the smallest coins." The quarters and other small coins figure the happiness drawn out of darkness in Kaminsky's poems. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 January 2023)



Dancing in Odessa - Ilya Kaminsky - 9780571369188 - Allen & Unwin ...

Monday, January 02, 2023

Two years with Adrienne Rich's "Collected Poems: 1950-2012"

In the Spring Semester of 2021, I taught a seminar on Adrienne Rich's poetry. For the course, I used the second edition of Rich's selection of her work, "The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems 1950-2001", which came out in 2003, but I also bought myself her "Collected Poems 1950-2012", which was published in 2016. I've been reading that collected edition ever since, and yesterday, on returning from vacation, I finished the last few poems. From "Storm Warnings", which opened her first book "A Change of World" in 1951, to "Endpapers", the last poem in "Collected Poems", it was quite an experience to immerse myself in all of Rich's wide-ranging, provocative work. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 January 2023)



Collected Poems: 1950-2012 by Adrienne Rich
W. W. Norton & Company, 2016


Sunday, January 01, 2023

The exhilarating kitsch of the Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls

I was struggling to come up with something especially memorable from 2022, but then I saw the "Maid of the Mist" sweatshirt my daughter Sara was wearing today. While Sara and I were on a road trip in the United States with my sister True last July, we left True at a friend's house near Buffalo and went to Niagara Falls, where we went on the Maid of the Mist boat tour that goes past the American Falls and then incredibly close to the extremely loud Horseshoe Falls. While it may be a very kitschy tourist attraction, being soaked by the Niagara mist is nonetheless an intense, exhilarating, and unforgettable experience. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 1 January 2023)